Global Warming

Humanity heads into a stormy future, with no stars to steer by…
Climate change is killing 150,000 people a year now. That is the estimate of the World Health Organization for the year 2000, and now it is ten years out of date. So let us double that.

The once-in-a-thousand year 2010 Moscow heatwave caused an estimated 15,000 deaths.

For the “we have nothing to do with it” global warming deniers, here is a little primer on the current state of the science.

The science is already in.

There are metacommentaries on Russia’s heatwave here and here.

Climate records are being broken all over the world this year.

The 10 years up to the end of 2009 have been the hottest in the 160-year instrumental record of global temperatures, and significantly warmer than the 1990s, the 1980s or any other decade since global surface temperature measurements began in 1860, the WMO and the Met Office said in separate announcements at the Copenhagen climate summit, where the world community failed to construct a new global warming treaty.

Taken as a whole, the first decade of the 21st century has been 0.4 degrees hotter than the current baseline for measuring global temperatures – the average for the years 1961-1990, which was 14C. By comparison, the 1990s were 0.23 degrees hotter and the 1980s were 0.08 degrees hotter, while all the previous decades stretching back to 1850 showed averages that were lower.

This is the actuality. It does matter. We can, all of us as individuals, do something.

Stopping global warming is actually a dream from which some of us still have to awake: it is more realistic to prepare ourselves and our society for the shocks that will inevitably come by practicing bioresilience. Our extraordinary adaptability as a species will be tested to the utmost in the next one hundred years. We have never had a challenge like it in the history of humankind.

Slowing the rate of growth of human carbon emissions (the global economic recession did so last year, although I see no real evidence at the level of political leaderships to cut carbon emissions) is one goal for the political elites, with eventual cuts at some unspecified date in the future, but a reduction of carbon emissions by 90% is actually what we must aim at as a society, which involves almost inconceivable transformations in the way we live, work, eat, travel and generate energy. A worldwide citizens’ movement is our tool.

We shall still move to a hotter world, but one that we shall survive, with far more modest and local lifestyles. We/I will also make the spiritual shift in our/my consciousness, and create new ways for ourselves/myself and our/my children to connect with and appreciate the beauties of nature in our over-informatized and mediatized world. Spiritual shift has now become a categorical imperative. Be the change you want to see. May I be the change I want to see…in me and in my world.

We have the luxury, in the privileged West, of having a little bit of potential space in our lives to accomplish this. If you are starving, drowning (as in Bangladesh, Niger and Pakistan), living at the edge of subsistence (Mali, Central African Republic and Southern Sudan) and walking 12 miles a day simply to fetch water, there is much less space.

And the very poor are not producing the carbon emissions. It is us, in the developed world. I am not asking for guilt or a hair shirt: I am asking for awareness. And action. From myself, and from you!

Too much information, especially about such an explosive topic, actually creates anxiety and depression: have you noticed? I did in 2006, when I studied global warming nonstop for months. Too much (usually poor quality) information is actually the curse of our world: paying it too much attention creates a state of no peace.

Therefore we/I need to learn new ways to care for ourselves/myself, as we/I reconnect with the warp and weft of our ineffably beautiful and breathtaking living planet.

In time, perhaps, too, biodiversity will start to return to a planet currently in the sixth great extinction crisis of its long geological history.

We need not be a plague on the planet.

It is not our purpose here.

Once we come from a place of deeper peace and connection in ourselves, we rule out fear and chase it from our bodily abode: we then inspire others to seek that as well. Our activism has a more transformational quality on all around us. I have much to learn, much to heal, and much to change in myself.

Most campaigners, and part of the scientific community (James Hansen in particular), think that emissions cuts should begin at the latest by 2015. With the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition in power until then, we certainly have our work cut out.

“Business as usual” = civilizational collapse, sooner or later. And unimaginable human suffering. The suffering of Pakistan at the moment, but multiplied a million fold…

If you do not care, do not have children. They may not forgive you. Consciousness is rising about the scale of the challenge we face.

If you wish to be up to date on the subject of global warming, read the scientists! I suggest here and the NOAA, plus the climate progress website mentioned above.

I read them, and I am not a scientist.

The human race currently emits 29 billion tons (29 gigatons – more here) of carbon a year. And we do not do it by breathing or farting alone!

We have multiplied our biological carbon emissions as a species many fold through the development of technology, which required the burning of fossil fuels, the ancient sunlight of antiquity. Thus we become our own Nemesis.

It is difficult to point to any aspect of our current material lives that is not dependent on fossil fuels in some way, from plastic bags to cheap food.

We are changing the climate, and without global carbon emission reductions there is a point of no return, where positive feedbacks kick in and carbon emissions from natural processes such as the melting of the subarctic tundra, the loss of arctic sea ice in summer, and the burning of the world’s forests, start to render annual human emissions almost insignificant, kicking global warming into high gear.

We have – perhaps – a little window of opportunity now. It is human to hope. Nobody knows how long we have. It seems, from my many years of reading on the subject of global warming, that the window will certainly close by 2030.

And that date is based on the most optimistic of all projections.

Once the climate “tipping points” are passed (the scientific consensus – but no-one really knows – is that this starts to happen at 1.5 to 2 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial global temperatures: we are currently 0.8 degrees Centigrade above), we are in for a very rough ride indeed.

That article is from yesterday’s UK newspaper, The Independent.

Given the current levels of urgency regarding this issue on the part of the global elites, runaway global warming is currently more likely than not.

Anthropogenic global warming has the potential to be the new global genocide. A genocide of the poor by the richest countries, with the highest per capita output of carbon emissions. Ask a Pakistani farmer in Sindh province how he is doing at the moment, and what his prospects are for 2011.

With runaway climate change, civilization will collapse, and there will – at some point after 2050 – be a catastrophic collapse in the global human population in the “business as usual” scenario (I do not like James Lovelock’s politics at all, but in that sense he is hard to contradict). For more on this, see Anatoly Karlin’s review of Six Degrees, by Mark Lynas.

It is a very graphic and a very detailed description, degree by degree of global warming above pre-industrial levels, of how human-induced global warming is changing the world we live in. And the précis saves you reading the book.

By 2020, at the current 0.2 degrees Centigrade of global warming per decade, we shall have passed the threshold of 1 degree of global warming globally since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Here is Anatoly Karlin’s summary of one degree of global warming.

One Degree

Though the Great Plains are one of the world’s great agricultural breadbaskets, a desert slumbers underneath. Increased dessication and pummeling storms will erode away the thin topsoil, recreating the Dust Bowl on a giant scale and re-awakening the sand dunes. More irrigation will only postpone the inevitable. There will be large-scale migration to the wetter Mid-West and Great Lakes regions. AK: actually called the Great American Desertduring the 19th century!, and is now dependent on depleting Oglalla Aquifer.

Higher rainfall, glacial melt and strengthening Siberian rivers may interrupt the Gulf Stream (part of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation system), drying western Europe and cooling it by as much as 2 C – recreating the conditions of the Little Ice Age during the worst winters. However, most models predict this will be a slow death. AK: If not, expect increased European dependency on Russian gas during the 2010′s and 2020′s.

In Africa, Kilimanjaro will lose its remaining ice by 2020 – causing wildfires, fish stock declines and problems with hydroelectricity production. Based on paleoclimate, in the long term, there will be a greening of the Sahara (into a savanna) and an enlarged Lake Chad…however, models say that there will only be a short interlude of heavier rains in the Sahel and on the West African coast, followed by even fiercer drought.

Coral reefs around the world will be increasingly bleached and taken over by seaweed; polar bears are pushed off the top of the world and creatures like pikas are shoved off the planet, accelerating the Anthropocene Mass Extinction event. Hurricanes will become stronger and more ubiquitous, spreading to the South Atlantic. More rockfalls in the Alps. Increased incidence of drought in the Amazon, pushing it to the brink. Atolls become doomed worlds, fated to submerge amidst the rising waves.

It will have taken around 250 years for a one degree rise in the mean global temperature to occur. However, climate dynamics are like a slumbering beast. There is a great deal of inertia locked into the system. First, there is very good evidence that the level of greenhouse gases being added to the atmosphere is itself rising. Secondly, the rate of global warming has been speeding up. Therefore we can, optimistically, expect the second degree of global warming after 2050, even with a concerted scaleback in emissions. That is within my children’s lifetime.

Now read Karlin’s summary of two degrees. Many of us will live to see this. At 0.3 degrees centigrade of increase in the global mean temperature per decade, two degrees arrives in 2053. A “climatic flip” is also possible: a sudden, dramatic acceleration, leading to climate collapse, from our perspective. The British Meteorological Office considers four degrees of global warming a possibility by 2060:

Now read Karlin on four degrees of global change. Are we not living through a planetary emergency?

Please read Anatoly Karlin’s review of Lynas if you read nothing else I reference. It is a glimpse into the uncertain future toward which we are headed, with no stars to steer by.

Global capitalism requires 3% compound growth to continue in existence, as David Harvey explains here in 3 parts. Capitalism must expand, or die. Both natural and institutional limits to the self-reproduction of Capital are a mortal threat to its very being. 3% compound growth, and our additional numbers, explain why the human species has moved from using 62% of planetary biocapacity in 1961 to 144% of planetary biocapacity in 2006. Is your country living within the mercy of its ecological means? Check the ecological footprint network atlas.

Not sustainable, and not a good outlook for the species. “No future, no future, no future for me,” as the Sex Pistols once sang.

I suspect, therefore, that the answer to human survival in this century and the next, and a civilizational level higher than that described in the visionary, and beautifully written novel of our potential future in a much warmer world, Far North by Marcel Theroux, lies in a re-visioning and implementation of communism.

Read it and see what you think; then comment.

Despite the 20th century deviation of Communism from its original envisioning by Marx and Engels and the ecological disasters of the Eastern Bloc, Mao’s China and the Soviet Union, Marx’s vision of post-scarcity communism was profoundly ecological.

Cuba is the only country in the world today that lives within its ecological limits(page 14).

I find it very heartening that there remains one country in the world that has, largely by default, found a sustainable way to live, and that it is, with all its human rights and politico-economic flaws, a non-capitalist country.

Cuba is a glimmer of hope in a world ruled by the mantras of greed and growth. But not the only one by any means. People are waking up all over the world. Morales’ Bolivia, one of poorest countries in the world, and heavily dependent on extractive mining, has produced one of the most visionary ecological statements of the last year (to find it go to the Climate and Capitalism website).

Hope was the last thing left in the Greek myth of Pandora’s box, which we have, in the course of industrial civilization, unknowingly thrown open wide.

May we not let hope fly away altogether: this is my prayer for my children and yours, their children and your grandchildren.

About jacobbauthumley

Just another Ranter in the blogosphere, based in the East of England in the UK. Interests literature and poetry, poets, communism and communalism, socialism, the destiny of humankind, the Ranter folk in the English revolution (one of their writers was called Jacob Bauthumley: click on About and you’ll find a piece on Ranter beliefs, with a quotation from Bauthumley himself), the Green Party, philosophy, ethics, science fiction, the novel, France, Norfolk, global warming, humour, music, and survival. “We must love one another or die”: W H Auden, in the poem 1st September 1939.

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16 Responses to Global Warming: Facing the Next Fifty Years

  1. Erranter says:

    It’s surprising the number of intelligent (and unintelligent) people in the US who still don’t believe in global warming. The usually call it a fabrication by “the elite” trying to tax middle Americans and cut their standard of living.

    I believe in global warming. But even if it weren’t true, I think we need to cut car use. The havoc wreaked by cars and car culture is immense. Our bodies, our cities, our wildernesses, not to mention our perception of places as unique . . . Trains are much better all around. But nobody in America can be sold on this.

    • Yes. I couldn’t agree more, and I have a car, an old Volvo estate, which I use seldom, for carting big stuff around. All short trips up to seven miles or so are by bicycle. or on foot. I don’t fly by choice: I’m 54 and I’ve flown about 5 times in my life, just short haul stuff. I’ve been to India overland through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, taking three weeks to get to Delhi. I’ve been to Poland by train from London. Last year I went to Budapest by train with my girlfriend. The journey was great! Much richer than flying… I took a train from London to Paris (2 hours 15 minutes for 300 miles), then the TGV from Paris to Avignon (about 3 hours 20 minutes for over 463 miles, then a local bus to Arles (one of the most gorgeous old cities in Provence, close to the Camargue where all the wild horses are) where I and my girlfriend stayed two, and I spent a hour and a half chatting in French to my old friend from Paris days Annie (but she’s an Arlésienne), and then we took off for Marseille, then Genoa, then Chiavari (beautiful medieval resort town), then Venice, and finally the overnight sleeper to Budapest, very comfortable, and a breeze compared with flying. The same leisurely journey back, stopping in Venice, Milan and Marseille, where we saw some great impromptu breakdance by some black kids. Finally we spent three nights with my mother at her home in Burgundy, in a village on the river Cure near Auxerre in the Yonne. We were away around 17 nights: what a way to travel!

      One day I’d really love to travel South America by train: hasn’t Paul Theroux written a book about doing just that? The Old Patagonian Express?

      • Erranter says:

        Train travel in South America is pretty limited these days. The Argentines are putting up some rails but they don’t build things very quickly. I mostly got around by bus and took one flight to Patagonia, because it’s so damn far down there. I don’t know about Brazil, I didn’t make it over there (they charge Americans a lot to enter) but in the Southern cone as well as in Peru and Bolivia the trains are very dangerous and very few. Both American continents seem to be train-challenged. Bus is alright, but can be uncomfortable for long hauls. I once had to sit next to a lady with a screaming child for some 20 hrs., with no bathroom, with the same repeating song on the radio up front (I guess they just didn’t notice?) and later, with vomit and trash swirling around the floor . . . That was the worst by far. They weren’t all like that. But riding through the Andes can be very frightening. I remember us winding through those barren peaks on tiny curving roads, with buses and oil trucks coming at us, and then attempting to pass (!) the oil trucks with more oil trucks coming at us. I stood up and nearly shouted, like most of the other westerners. Got into town in Peru and noticed that bus crashes are all over the newspapers . . . Hell of an adventure, that’s for sure! I guess there used to be concerns about bandits taking over buses of tourists, but fortunately they’ve got that under control.

  2. My son Jack travelled all over South America last year, spending time in Guatemala (where he did a two week total immersion Spanish course – dad was envious! I got my spoken Spanish up to scratch by a spending a month in Spain), Bogota in Columbia, where he got a job teaching English (he said the Colombian girls were great, and all fancied him because of his blond, blue eyed good looks. So he slept with several rich Colombian girls. Back in England, he got invited over to Paris by one of them), Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. He didn’t think much of South American cuisine, saying it was greasy and uninspired. Bogota was ok for eating out though.
    My daughter Alice (19) has recently come back from India, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, and my other daughter Ella (23) did all those countries bar Vietnam the year before. I told them to go to Kerala: they liked it. Goa for the beaches and the drugs. They both felt urban Thailand has been pretty ruined by Western tourism and Western money. They both loved Laos (relatively little tourist penetration!), and Alice fell in love with Vietnam in a big way. She spent a month there, in June.

    • Erranter says:

      Peruvian cuisine is a delight. But only insofar as your stomach can handle it (lots of microbes floating around in the water and air). It’s a uniquely American cuisine. There’s some European influence, but mostly just in placement and other superficial aspects. The ingredients are mostly from Peru and the recipes derived from old indigenous and Incan foods. Argentine food was pretty bland. Just a lot of beef, which I’m not really into. You order a steak that’s exactly what you get: a sizzling, huge steak, no potatoes, no vegetables, maybe a sauce or two . . . They seem to live off beef, coffee & candy in Argentina. And they’re pretty damn skinny (and good-looking) though they seem to age quickly.

      You Europeans travel around a lot more than we do. I’m seen as “world traveler” because I’ve been to Europe, around the States a bit, Mexico and South America. That much is pretty rare among our ilk. And the fact that I speak a few foreign languages sets me apart even more.

  3. Americans don’t really need to travel. They’ve got such a great country! Maybe Canada if they’re feeling really adventurous. But it does lead to a kind of insularity, and the pathetic ignorance of the world that rich boy oilhead George Bush Junior exhibited.

    But it’s great to speak European languages! Did you do a languages major? I want to learn another, but I’m really attracted by Persian. I guess German would be a lot easier. I started studying it once. It wasn’t that difficult, and very easy to pronounce. Just a lot to remember….more than French or Spanish. Portugese would be a breeze, now, Italian a little more demanding.

    Which one are you most fluent in? German? My last girlfriend spoke five languages apart from English. She was fluent in four of them (in descending order of fluency): German, Danish, French, Norwegian and Italian. She’s been learning Spanish the last five years. She tried Icelandic once but found it really tough.

    • Erranter says:

      I’m probably best at Spanish, because it’s a pretty easy language. Additionally, I know German, French pretty well, and am working my way through Italian.

      If you want something easy to start, Spanish is great. And it’s very widespread. German is hard, but not as hard as Russian, and the people are pretty forgiving with how you speak (unlike the French). Icelandic is supposed to be one of the hardest European languages to learn.

      Traveling in Canada is great. I went to Montreal and Quebec City a few months ago and loved it. Friendly people and great architecture.

  4. The basic fact as regards transport is that hard as it seems to believe- Death by car throughout the world has caused more fatalities than WW1 and WW2 combined!

    Of Pandora’s Box Browne writes in ‘A letter to a friend”

    New Discoveries of the Earth discover new Diseases: for besides the common swarm, there are endemial and local Infirmities proper unto certain Regions, which in the whole Earth make no small number: and if Asia, Africa, and America should bring in their List, Pandoras Box would swell, and there must be a strange Pathology’.

  5. Dear Ruths,

    This is very much an occasional piece, not a scholarly article, but finally knocked into shape I think. It’s just over two thousand words long I need some unofficial peer review, just informal general impressions. Does it hang together? Writing well is so difficult. The latter – a scholarly piece – would take months and months of preparation, as well as peer review. I doubt very much whether I would be up to the task, as I am a modern languages graduate, not a scientist or even a mathematician.

    By spiritual I mean the aesthetic, social and political values by which we live. Nothing to do with a deity. They have to change from greed, individualism and self-seeking to collective consciousness, practical solidarity and thrift. Not an easy task, especially in 50 years. when the values penetrating the West since the Renaissance have been hedonistic, divisive, and productive of loneliness.

    Similarly the word prayer is used in an entirely secular way, to mean “positive wish, positive imagining”. I believe it can be used that way. Liable to confuse atheists though, and I am perfectly happy for it and the word spiritual to be understood religiously by the religious. That is part of the wonderful ambiguity of language. It is a song with a slightly different meaning for each individual.

    Karlin’s conceptions, on his “sublime oblivion” website, have nothing to do with anything we understand by communism as practised in the Eastern Bloc, China, the Soviet Union, North Korea, and Vietnam. He may just have some very good ideas,

    with thanks and love,


  6. This post is related to the issues I start to discuss. I like Anatoly Karlin’s writing a lot:

    – a vision of a world state based on informatized central planning, universal sousveillance, and ecotechnic spirituality driving the transition to ecological sustainability.

    The best Anthropogenic Global Warming sceptic book is

    Chill, A Reassessment of Global Warming Theory: Does Climate Change Mean the World is Cooling, and If So What Should We Do About It? by Peter Taylor (Paperback – 26 May 2009).

    He does not represent any special interests, he is an environmentalist but not a climatologist, and he lacks scientific credentials in the field of climate dynamics. Thought provoking and troubling, nonetheless….read it alongside

    Global Warming, the Complete Briefing, by John Houghton,

    Climate Change: Picturing the Science by Gavin Schmidt and Joshua Wolfe.

    The Long Thaw: How Humans Are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth’s Climate (Science Essentials) by David Archer

    Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity by James Hansen.

    If you read these five book you will have a conspectus of viewpoints on global warming, from the intelligent sceptic and to the most alarmed climatologist.

    I am, clearly, at the more alarmed end of the spectrum, and that may in part be a function of personal psychology, and my immersion in literature, my first love.

    Professor James Lovelock’s last three books are at the more poetic, less rigorous and Cassandra like end of the politico-scientific spectrum, and also worth reading, because he writes well, and in addition has an appreciation of the aesthetic dimension of life.

    James Lovelock is pro the nuclear generation of electricity, like Joseph Romm (in Hell and High Water: The Global Warming Solution – another good book with a very pro-capitalist perspective) advocating a major programme of building nuclear power stations (France’s ecological footprint is less than that of the UK partly because so large a proportion of that country’s electricity generation is from nuclear reactors), and accepts the politico-economic status quo.

    He was an enthusiastic supporter of Margaret Thatcher.

  7. The best book I’ve read making the connections between capitalism and climate change is:

    The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or The End of the World? by Joel Kovel.

    All of Kovel’s books are worth reading. Great mind! Great heart!

  8. Khaled says:

    ‘By spiritual I mean the aesthetic, social and political values by which we live. Nothing to do with a deity.’

    I think we don’t need to complicate things more than it’s complicated, also we don’t need to appear as sophisticated- as we have already wrecked human thoughts with enough “sophisticated” stuff. Why don’t we define Spiritual as anything that’s not physical? Why don’t we look at it from its own key hole, that is, from our inner and immaterial vision. If we manage to get this vision or call it whatever out from our inners, it’s up to individuals to link it to Gods, trees, water, life, animals or even the beyond….. or anything!

    ‘ They have to change from greed, individualism and self-seeking to collective consciousness, practical solidarity and thrift. Not an easy task, especially in 50 years. when the values penetrating the West since the Renaissance have been hedonistic, divisive, and productive of loneliness.

    Similarly the word prayer is used in an entirely secular way, to mean “positive wish, positive imagining”.’

    Maybe in the English language! It’s a bit more than that in other languages, in Arabic for instance, however, I see your point. Again, it is quite individual as with all of us (which is normal) to define things differently, that what makes me different from you ;-) I believe it can be used that way. Liable to confuse atheists though (I like that, when atheists and scientists get more confused).

    ‘ and I am perfectly happy for it and the word spiritual to be understood religiously by the religious. That is part of the wonderful ambiguity of language (is it ambiguity or interpretations?) . It is a song with a slightly different meaning for each individual (I very much agree with you and I like this one, it explains a lot).’

  9. I have no car…. I have (or to be precise, my family has) some 150 sheep and a donkey, I travel to work by bus…

    The United State is the first polluter in the whole world, it shares some 30% of the global pollution, and consumes some 25% of the oil in the whole world !!!

    New Your city radiates as much as the whole continent of Africa…. at the time they (the American GMC and Ford) killed the electric car in the early 90s to keep selling their oil cars !!!

    The funny thing is that, a few years ago, an American professional woman who works in an American NGO that cares for the environment (surely CIA agent) came to teach us, the “primitive” bedouins how to recycle things… she was surprised to find that every single thin is recycled…. our whole life is recyclation of reusing recycled commodities !! … In one day, her 4-wheel car polluted more than what our sheep do in a decade !!

  10. Well said Sami…and who are the biggest polluters on the West Bank? Who steals 80% of the water and 40% of the land? And who pipes sewage directly onto your land, polluting the water table?

  11. Javier Sethness’ review in anarchist studies of Mark Lynas’ Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet:

  12. From a Facebook discussion with a 20 year old….
    Jonathan Birchall

    The reason why I’m worried about it is ‘cause I love cities and people and I don’t want them to be flooded…it’s not about imbuing some moral value in something other than human beings, it’s precisely because I care about human beings, and don’t want them to be drowned, and don’t want them to go hungry, that I oppose global warming.

    14 October at 13:41 · Comment · Like · See Wall-to-Wall

    Hi Jon,

    Climate dynamics have an immense amount of inertia locked in. The human species’ current additional 29 gigatons a year (and rising) of carbon equivalent added to natural emissions
    has been enough to destabilise the climate. 150 years of industrial revolutions all over the world from 1800 on did not really have that much impact: after a mini cooling due to natural variation in the Northern hemisphere around 1940 mean temperatures only started to shift upwards markedly after 1980, and faster still after 1998. “Opposing global warming” is still trying to stop a supertanker doing 25 knots, if that is useful analogy for you.

    Although personally I support the 350 movement ( 350 parts per million of CO2 equivalent, or below – it was 280 prior to 1800 – is the only safe level, and we already at 393ppm, rising by at least 2ppm per year) even the 90% global cuts in carbon equivalent emissions are not going to stop global mean temperatures rising by another 1.5 to 2 degrees centigrade, very close to the tipping points envisaged by science journalists and climate commentators like Fred Pearce (The Last Generation) that would ratchet up global warming further as emissions from the natural environment soar, as they did in Europe in the very hot summer of 2003.

    What I am saying is that there is absolutely no prospect now of “stopping global warming”, even with the most radical conceivable cuts in emissions, that are not even talked about in any official international forums such as Copenhagen, 2009.

    We are therefore, like it or not, moving by mid century to a much hotter climate. We are currently at 0.8 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial global mean temperatures, and the shifts in climate, even in the UK (protected by its geographical position, and by the fact that it is an island) from the more extreme shifts further North, in Alaska and Greenland, for example), are palpable…are they not? The global mean temperature is currently rising by 0.2 degrees centigrade A DECADE. This is unprecedented.

    Atmospheric CO2 levels are at their highest levels for over 600,000 years. Global warming combined with approaching Peak Oil (see Anatoly Karlin’s Sublime Oblivion website for more on Peak Oil), a fossil fuel on which the dependence of our whole industrial civilisation is hard to overestimate (and there’s no replacement in sight – not even nuclear energy, on which I am less than keen) and the Sixth Great Extinction in the planet’s history of species, are combining to create a triple whammy of gigantic proportions for the human species.

    We MAY survive it, that’s all I can say. I hope so personally: my youngest daughter could well still be around in 2070, by which time we could as a species by reeling from crisis after crisis, and looking forward to a global crash in our numbers post 2100. IN MY VIEW IT IS THAT SERIOUS, the global warming challenge.

    We are largely responsible, as a result of fossil fuel driven indutrialisation, for driving temperatures upwards, and so far we’ve prevaricated for 30 years. By 1980 climate scientists already had the broad picture. It has only been refined since. I read a study of global warming in 1990 by John Gribbin and Mick Kelly (Winds of Change) that has largely stood the test of time.

    I assume you’ve read Mark Lynas’ book Six Degrees (2008)? I read it and passed it to my son, who was then 24. If you have not I can point you an article I wrote myself, which references his conclusions:

    I also lay out my own prognosis in the article (you’ll have to click the links to get the full picture) for until 2050 or so. I’ve just read a book, which I started reading after writing my article, that puts rather succinctly, in 100 pages, some of the conclusions I drew: How The Rich Are Destroying the Earth, by Hervé Kempf, a journalist with Le Monde in France. I wrote him an email in French yesterday evening, expressing my appreciation for his book.

    I don’t want to scare you, just put you in the picture. The discussion that follows my article is rather off at tangent, but I do detail some reading you could do on the subject of global warming and indicate which books I think are the best as more in depth studies. I haven’t read every book on the subject, of course, but I’ve been interested in this area at least since my Friends of the Earth days in the 1980s. I read James Lovelock’s “Gaia: A New Look At Life On Earth” too, around 1981. I also reference climate scientists’ websites that are worth looking at.

    I hope this helps put things in perspective a little. I am not a catastrophist. I just think things are very serious. If we get this wrong we shall face extinction as a species ourselves in the 22nd or 23rd century: of that I am reasonably certain. I hope you can sleep tonight. Knowing as much as I do about the subject – and I am only a lay member of the public – is not a comfortable experience!
    16 October at 16:54


2 Responses to Global Warming

  1. Ken Hoop
    September 1, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    good doomer blog.


    Abiezer Coppe
    September 2, 2010 at 2:11 AM
    Well that went down like a lead balloon!


    Abiezer Coppe
    September 2, 2010 at 5:59 AM
    Here is the methane news. Enjoy.,1518,547976,00.html


    September 2, 2010 at 12:19 PM
    You need to tie the Joos or Messicans into this to get your page views up, Abiezer.

    I think it’s all so horrifying to consider it’s not much fun to talk about, unlike race wank.

    It is looking to me like Lovelock is right and TPTB are going to do nothing until it is too late, if they do anything at all. In fact it looks like the only force that is going to stand up to the libertardian capitalists is the planet itself. Unfortunately the punishment will be collective. I do like that Karlin website, though.

    How do people who aren’t rich make plans for this stuff?

    The government won’t get behind solutions unless they can make obscene amounts of money for the ruling class. Educating people about things like permaculture, community farming, and earth-sheltered, sustainable housing would help the plebes but no one would get rich. The banksters and McMansion builders would shit if the government got behind these things in a big way.

    Instead they subsidize bullshit like biofuels from corn, which is not sustainable and is nothing but more corporate welfare.

    This is a website that focuses on the shortcomings of industrial wind as an alternative energy source:

    I haven’t studied wind power much, but apparently there was an article in Forbes that gave investing in industrial wind a thumbs up, due
    to the fact that tax shelters made it profitable. Whether or not any actual power was made was irrelevant.

    Here’s a great article by a West Virginia blogger about a huge windfarm there, which is to supply the DC area with power rather than WV. 70% of the power generated in West Virginia leaves the state:

    None of this power is used locally. This windfarm supplies ‘the mid atlantic grid’. Well, what that means isn’t exactly clear. For our purposes here, I won’t call it outright disingenuous. For one thing, it’s not yet actually connected to the ‘mid-atlantic grid’ as such. A shiny brand spanking new leg of the ‘Smart Grid’ is being built in it’s honor.

    Birds and bats, yes, it’s a real issue, it’s not not a real issue. Migratory song birds are one thing, migratory raptors are another thing. Bats, still a different thing. But the big thing, The forests and ridges of WV are home to the greatest biodiversity outside of amazon basin, and according to some, even broader. Folks who opposed this project were called NIMBYs. But who are the real NIMBYs? West Virginia isn’t using this power, the turbines weren’t manufactured here. The folks who installed them aren’t from here, and aside from a few landowners, who benefits? Well, folks who live far far far away. Sure, for a while, the local restaurants and room rentals were doing pretty well. The additional loads to the roadways was born by the WV taxpayer, the destruction of habitat will be born by all the life of the region. The invasive plants that are taking over the forests floors all along the ridge, and along the right of ways benefit, but the natives don’t. Who is the NIMBY indeed.

    I highly recommend reading the post. As he concludes:

    But I do know that ALL of the studies done, since Carter starting talking this game all those many decades ago, show that dollar for dollar, energy efficiency trumps energy use every single time. And that’s where the future is.


    Abiezer Coppe
    September 2, 2010 at 1:26 PM
    Thanks, babe, I’ve added your comment to that of the libertardian plumber from Pacific Grove, Ca. on my blog – click on my name Abiezer and you’ll see it. He’s a “sophisticated” global warming denier.

    Can you give me an angle on the Jews and global warming? Hey Lafayette, c’mon over, we’re cookin’ Jews on the barbie…

    Meanwhile, maybe I got it all wrong…I hope so!


    September 2, 2010 at 1:53 PM
    You’ve gotta hand it to them, Minnesotans have a got the gift of comedy…


    September 2, 2010 at 1:53 PM
    You’ve gotta hand it to them, Minnesotans have got the gift of comedy…


    green inventions
    September 18, 2010 at 12:29 PM
    Speaking of underestimates, have you seen these?


  2. The reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are balanced and comprehensive documents summarizing the impact of global warming on the planet. But they are not without imperfections, and one of the most notable was the analysis of future sea level rise contained in the latest report, issued in 2007.

    Given the complexities of forecasting how much the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets will contribute to increases in global sea level, the IPCC chose not to include these giant ice masses in their calculations, thus ignoring what is likely to be the most important source of sea level rise in the 21st century. Arguing that too little was understood about ice sheet collapse to construct a mathematical model upon which even a rough estimate could be based, the IPCC came up with sea level predictions using thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of mountain glaciers outside the poles. Its results were predictably conservative — a maximum of a two-foot rise this century — and were even a foot lower than an earlier IPCC report that factored in some melting of Greenland’s ice sheet.

    The IPCC’s 2007 sea level calculations — widely recognized by the academic community as a critical flaw in the report — have caused confusion among many in the general public and the media and have created fodder for global warming skeptics. But there should be no confusion about the serious threat posed by rising sea levels, especially as evidence has mounted in the past two years of the accelerated pace of melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets.

    The message for the world’s leaders and decision makers is that sea level rise is real and is only going to get worse.

    You can see all comments on this post here:

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